Junk food is so much cheaper.
I hate how expensive it is to eat healthy at all, let alone organic.
I can’t afford to feed my family healthy food.
Before you go any farther, think about your grocery budget. How much do you spend on eating out? On the junk food that is ‘so cheap?’ Are you sure eating healthy food is that much more expensive?
It is possible to eat healthy on a budget, and, with a little elbow grease, it will be a lot less expensive than the junk you’re currently eating. You’ve just got to have a plan.
Stop eating out.
The first step to eating healthy on a budget is to make a commitment to stop eating out. It is killing your bank account. You don’t think it’s much, but if it’s a 10 dollar meal five times a week, that’s $200 a month on eating out, and that only counts one meal a day. If you eat out twice a day for ten dollars, that’s $400 a month. I’m not saying you can never eat out again, I’m just saying that on a consistent basis, it’s time to hit the grocery store.
Figure out what you want.
The next step is deciding what you want to eat, what you’ll actually eat. If you don’t think you’ll end up eating the kale, don’t get it. Get a bunch of romaine lettuce with some baby spinach, instead. The best case scenario is having all of your meals planned out. It’s crazy intimidating to sit down and plan an entire week’s worth of meals, especially when you have a toddler that might decide he hates spaghetti on spaghetti night, but it’ll be all he wants on chicken soup night. If that’s the case, be flexible. Even if you don’t have a picky child to feed, maybe it’s your partner, roommates, or yourself. Be flexible so that you don’t end up caving and eating out on the night that you were committed to start.
Make a Plan
Get out a piece of paper, or just a week-long calendar, and write down what you’re doing . This way, you don’t plan to make a huge enchilada meal from scratch when you’re not going to be getting home until ten at night due to work. Plan a rough meal plan around your schedule. If you’re not sure what you’ll want on a specific day, give yourself some options so that when it comes time, you can quickly whip something up for dinner.
Write it down
The next step is to make your list. Take ten minutes and look online at your stores flyer. Look at what’s on sale, and squeeze that into your meal plan. Hey, organic radishes are normally $1.50, but they’re on sale for $0.75? Grab a couple of extra bunches and prep them in baggies for quick snacks or salads.
Quick tip: radish greens are edible. Rinse them well, cut them away from the radish and add it to your salad. It has a mellow bite to it, and, being that I don’t like radishes, I’m very surprised at how tasty the greens are. The same goes for beet greens and carrot tops. Don’t throw away what you can add to a salad, or any meal, later.
Do some prep.
Prebake some chicken breasts unseasoned and put them in the fridge so you can season them however you want. Want some sort of shredded taco chicken? Chop it up, throw it in a skillet with some olive oil and onions, add some cumin, garlic, salt, and curry, and bam, you’ve got shredded chicken you can toss into a taco for a Latin feel. Want something more Indian? Add some extra curry to the chicken and serve it over rice with veggies on the side. If you plan ahead, you can have your own take out style meals in the fridge that only take 5 minutes of prep time.
If you can, do double, or even triple batches of something you love. Have a stew that you’re fabulous at making? Double it, and freeze half of it so then when you want it again, you just have to take it out and throw it in the slow cooker. Really like spaghetti? Same idea. Just toss it in the freezer and save it for later. Better yet, make it for dinner, and save leftovers for lunch the next day. This not only will set you up for easy meal prep the next day, it will keep you from eating it all in one sitting since you know it’s for your meal tomorrow.
All it takes is a little bit of work, but I promise both your wallet, and your waistline, will thank you.